Monday, March 13, 2006

NY Times: A Sensitive Portrayal of An Imam in America

Last week, The New York Times had a series of articles about the hardships faced by "An Imam in America". And yes, I wept when I read about how this man, Sheik Reda Shata, the imam of Brooklyn's Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, has suffered at the hands of our cruel and insensitive society. In poetic prose, we learn that

The imam begins his trek before dawn, his long robe billowing like a ghost through empty streets. In this dark, quiet hour, his thoughts sometimes drift back to the Egyptian farming village where he was born.

Most tragically, however, the imam and his fellow immigrants from The Middle East have arrived in a country that deeply offends them:

In the West, what Islamic law prohibits is everywhere. Alcohol fills chocolates. Women jog in sports bras. For many Muslims in America, life is a daily clash between Islamic mores and material temptation. At the center of this clash stands the imam.

To me, this is akin to slavery. How else can one describe the situation where people come to live in a country whose culture offends them?

The solution, clearly, is for America to accommodate the purity of our cultural superiors.

And to that end, the NYPD has undertaken cultural sensitivity seminars, as shown below:

Yes, imam Sheik Reda Shata, who instructs the police, is an expert in cultural sensitivity – as illustrated in these quotes from the article:

The imam exalted a young Palestinian mother, Reem Al-Reyashi, who blew herself up in 2004 at a crossing point between Gaza and Israel, killing four Israelis. Mr. Shata described the woman as a martyr.


When Sheik Ahmed Yassin the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas, was killed by Israelis in March 2004, Mr. Shata told hundreds who gathered at a memorial service in Brooklyn that the "lion of Palestine has been martyred."

I have three questions, though:
  1. Why did The Times bury these quotes in the middle of the article? To highlight the imam's cultural superiority, I would have placed these sentiments at the start of the article -- along with a picture of how those who disrespect diversity (like the war-mongering citizenry of the imperialistic apartheid Zionist entity) are educated by courageous martyrs.
  2. Brooklyn's Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, which Sheik Reda Shata presides over, was where Rashid Baz worshipped before he opened fire on a van full of Jews on the Brooklyn Bridge, murdering two of them. Why didn’t the New York Times highlight the struggle of Mr. Baz, and how he single-handedly resisted Zionist aggression in America?
  3. Why did The Times forget to mention that the imam’s “Lion of Palestine” and his Hamas organization’s primary function is to kill Jews? For sure, that would underscore the imam’s sensitivity!

In short, I agree (as I always do) with the enlightened people who send letters to The Times.

Your articles about the imam of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, were magnificent. Humane, sympathetic, objective, informative.


The series has given a human face to Muslims and Islam in America, thus correcting a lot of misperceptions and diminishing many people's fear of Islam and Muslims.


Anonymous said...

That was truly a fartwarming story about the kind, gentle little imam. It makes me want to behead myself for the guilt of having ever harbored a negative thought about Islam or its passionate followers.

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